Diabetes Type 3: What Could It Be?

Here's a puzzling disease that until a few years ago didn't even have a name. But type 3 diabetes can be an especially trying disorder for those who are diagnosed with it.

Individuals with type 3 diabetes display some of the characteristics of type 1 and some of type 2, explains Kelly O'Connor, RD, LD, CDE, of Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, MD. "It's also been called double diabetes," she says. "And it is definitely becoming more common." 

  • With type 1 diabetes, the body doesn't make any insulin at all.
  • With type 2 diabetes, O'Connor points out, the body makes insulin but doesn't use it the way it's supposed to.
  • With type 3 diabetes, type 2 patients often start to resemble type 1 patients in terms of their blood sugar control.

Typically, a newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes patient is put on oral medication with the expectation that this treatment will be enough for a number of years, explains Ellen Mandel, PA-C, CDE, DMH, an associate professor with the Seton Hall University School of Health and Medical Sciences in South Orange, NJ. But with type 3 diabetes, some of the oral medications that are effective at keeping blood sugar within the normal level in type 2 diabetes no longer works. "The person starts to present as if they have type 1 diabetes," Mandel says.

Individuals with diabetes are more likely to come down with Alzheimer's disease than those who don't have diabetes; it's believed that diabetes increases the risk of getting this disorder by up to 65 percent, according to Medical News Today.

Recently, it's become known that the brain makes insulin, according to Medical News Today. A lack of insulin coupled with high blood glucose can affect brain function in a negative way and increase both the incidence and severity of Alzheimer's and dementia, according to Medical News Today.

"There is a connection between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease," says Paul Mattis, PhD, a neurophysiologist at North Shore University Hospital in New York. "There is a mechanism in the brain that becomes insulin-resistant."

Diagnosing type 3 diabetes, which as of yet does not have a "standard definition" from the American Diabetes Association, can be tricky.

While further study is required so that type 3 can be more fully understood, treatment for it may be available soon. A product called CinGX, reports Medical News Today, may help treat type 3 diabetes, as well as Alzheimer's disease and dementia. But further research is needed to best determine how patients can cope with type 3 diabetes, according to Medical News Today.




"Mystery Diabetes Type 3 Hybrid; Alzheimer's Drug May Help." 17 March 2011. Medical News Today.